What Does A Divorce Decree Look Like?

What Does A Divorce Decree Look Like?

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No one goes into a marriage thinking their walk down the aisle will end in front of a judge in divorce court, but sometimes life’s path takes an unanticipated turn. For those facing a divorce in Colorado, many spouses who are new to the process wonder what a divorce decree looks like, what’s included in the decree, and why divorced spouses need copies of this important document to ensure that they remain in compliance with the terms of their divorce.

What is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce in Colorado includes legally enforceable terms for both spouses and their children. These terms include specifications for the following:

  • A parenting-time schedule for child custody
  • The division of the spouses’ marital assets
  • Child support orders
  • Spousal support orders (in some cases)

A divorce decree is a legal document signed by a judge and containing the court’s orders for all aspects of the divorce. In some divorces, the spouses agree on the terms before going to court either on their own, with the help of their Denver divorce attorneys, or through professional mediation. When divorcing spouses agree to their own divorce terms in an uncontested divorce, a judge simply signs off on their settlement agreement unless it’s egregiously unfair to one spouse or the judge suspects one spouse was under duress when they signed the agreement. More often, divorcing spouses have one or more disputed terms and the case goes to trial for a judge to hear both sides and make decisions on contentious terms before signing the final divorce decree.

What's On The Divorce Decree?

What’s on the Divorce Decree?

The divorce decree is a legal document containing the judge’s final orders based on either the spouses’ agreed-upon terms or the court’s decisions. Divorce decrees in Colorado look different in each unique divorce case. For example, divorcing spouses with no children and few marital assets may have a brief decree with few provisions while a high-asset divorce decree will include many pages of specific terms for the division of their assets. Some decrees also contain very specific terms for shared child custody schedules. In other cases, the decree may specify an amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) paid temporarily or permanently from one spouse to the other. Many divorce decrees include a notice that the wife returns to her maiden name after the finalization of the divorce.

Besides the judge’s orders, a Colorado divorce decree also contains the following information:

  • Each spouse’s identifying information
  • Identifying information for minor children
  • The court case number
  • The name of the presiding judge
  • The court address and phone number
  • The marriage’s official end date
  • The declaration of dissolution of marriage which states that the divorce is final
  • Both spouse’s signatures and the signatures of their attorneys

Many divorce decrees include an official court seal. Most spouses receive both electronic and paper copies of the decree.

Following the Orders on the Divorce Decree in Colorado

Both spouses must abide by the terms of the final divorce decree or else the court may begin enforcement efforts. Continued refusal to follow the orders included in the decree may result in contempt of court charges. To make any changes to the decree, a spouse must request a modification of the specific order they wish to change. In most cases, a judge will only agree to a modification if the spouse has a significant permanent change in circumstances to warrant the change.

Spouses can request paper copies of their divorce decree to have on hand to refer to when any questions arise regarding the terms of their divorce, or as proof of their divorce.